Nipah virus: 29 patients in 7 districts under observation

Kozhikode: Nipah virus threat still persists in the state as 29 more patients are under observation in various hospitals in 7 districts. Three patients in Kozhikode Medical College have been given Ribavirin tablets for Nipah virus infection. The hospital authorities said that they have not detected any side effects yet. The tablet was given to one patient who was confirmed with viral infection and two others under observation.

With the death of Moosa on Thursday morning, the Nipah virus has claimed 12 lives in Kerala till now, while a fresh case of a nursing student in Kozhikode testing positive has surfaced, officials said. Earlier this month, Moosa’s two sons and another relative also died due to the virus infection. They were the first cases of Nipah reported last week.

The dead body of Moosa was buried in Kannamparamaba funeral ground. The burial was conducted following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Collector UV Jose directed to bury the body in Kannamparamaba funeral ground with the consent of the relatives of the deceased and religious leaders.

The body was covered in airtight double layered cover and was buried in a 10-feet deep trench. Only a very few persons were allowed to attend the funeral. They were provided with safety equipment and training by the health department. People were also allowed to conduct prayers from 3-meter distance from the dead body.

Although the number of patients coming for treatment with symptoms of Nipah virus infection has gone down, Kozhikode Collector U.V. Jose has banned till May 31 all public meetings and even training courses, including tuitions, to avoid assembly of people.

The University of Calicut on Thursday announced postponement of all examinations listed for this week. A public service examination has also been deferred in view of the current situation in the district.

The Health Department said on Thursday that a total of 160 samples were sent for testing to Pune. Of the 22 results that came, 14 are positive. Adding to the 14, a woman nursing student at Kozhikode is reported to have become the latest person to test positive for the infection. The Kozhikode Medical College has 136 patients and nearby Malappuram district 24 patients under observation.

The authorities have, in the meantime, come out with a protocol to be carried out when the last rites of Nipah victims is performed. While cremation is favored as the best method to stop further spread of infection, in case families opt for burial, the body would have to be covered in a polythene bag and then put into a deep pit.

A large number of medical professionals and health experts deputed by the Centre, state government and the private sector are working in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. They are meeting those under observation, besides running awareness programmes, an official said.

Malappuram District Medical Officer K. Sakina told the media that the only thing the people in the district need to do is to follow the directions of the health authorities.

"Things are under control. What is being seen now is that if anyone has fever, there is a panic and when a patient tests positive, neighbours and relatives of the affected also turns panicky. We have opened a control room and we are always on the alert and we are doing everything possible to keep things under check. Therefore, no one needs to fear, instead they should cooperate with us," said Sakina.

The authorities in Kozhikode on Thursday decided to take action against two staff members at the state-owned crematorium here for not cooperating with the conduct of the last rites. Transmission of Nipah virus takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or other Nipah-infected persons.

(With inputs from agencies)

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